Food waste fighters: What motivates people to engage in food sharing?

Karin Schanes, Sigrid Stagl

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Increasing concerns around food waste and the rise of emerging information and communication technologies such as web platforms and mobile applications have enabled the rise of local initiatives that collect, manage and share food surplus. However, while food sharing is often discussed as a potentially transformative mechanism for a less wasteful food system, empirical studies are still scarce and only few researchers have yet investigated the motivations of food sharing practitioners. Therefore, in this article, we explore people's underlying motivations to participate in food sharing and shed light on their individual goals. The study builds on in-depth interviews with Austrian members – so-called ‘foodsavers’ – of the initiative ‘foodsharing’, which collects food from a variety of food providers before it is thrown away or enters a 'waste' state and shares it for free with a diverse group regardless of their social status. The results show that members are motivated by: (i) Emotions and Morality, (ii) Identity and Sense of Community, (iii) Reward, (iv) Social influence and (v) Instrumentality. The category Instrumentality comprises different goals that have a strong motivating effect: Save food from being wasted, Food (re)distribution, Food surplus prevention and Reinvigorating a new consciousness around food.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491 - 1501
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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